Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SCOTUS: Now OK to Question Suspects Without a Lawyer

The Supreme Court has now ruled that police may interrogate suspects without the presence of a lawyer.

The Supreme Court has overturned a long-standing ruling that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer is present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present.

The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court's conservatives overturned that opinion Tuesday, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying "it was poorly reasoned, has created no significant reliance interests and (as we have described) is ultimately unworkable."

Full story.

Although I haven't yet read the opinion, I have some concerns about this, especially given the ever-expanding number of criminal offenses.  And before law 'n order champions celebrate, they should remember that ultimately a criminal defense lawyer's job is not merely to get his client off.  Rather, it's also to ensure that the government does its job properly, IOW, that the government plays be the same set of rules to which it holds the rest of us.


Paul W said...

All the more reason to simply STFU when the police are nearby. Most people in jail are there because they didn't know when to put a sock in it - their mouths were the best prosecutors that money could buy, because they didn't cost the State anything.

Word to the wise - don't EVER volunteer any information to the police. They aren't your friend.

That doesn't mean that most officers aren't completely decent, even heroic and dedicated public servants - they ARE. However, they have a job to do. Not understanding that, not shutting up until your lawyer IS there, and CAN handle the situation is simply stupid.

Dave Markowitz said...

Agreed 100%.